As this season ticks on, Conte’s vision for Inter becomes more and more evident with each passing game. Inter are now 4 wins in 4 and sit pretty at the top of the table, but this is where it will start getting difficult as Inter are heading into a tough schedule for the next 3 weeks.
Tonight, Inter will be welcoming Lazio to the San Siro, their third game in 8 days, while this will be Lazio’s third game in the space of 7. As each side will both likely be suffering from a little bit of fatigue, I would expect to see each coach rotating their sides a little for this fixture. It’s a great opportunity for each coach to give other players some time on the pitch that haven’t really had the chance yet.
While Inter head into this match with a perfect record so far, less could be said about Lazio who have had a mixed run of results, claiming 2 wins (Parma and Sampdoria), 1 draw (Roma) and 1 defeat (SPAL). Lets look ahead at the key figures for this match.
Inter enter this match in fine form. They are averaging 2.25 goals per game, and an xG of 1.67. They seem to be continuing on this trend as evident in the last match against rivals Milan where they came out 2-0 winners and an xG of 1.56. This shows Inter are still scoring slightly more goals than is expected of them, which is very interesting.
Lazio meanwhile are a bit of the opposite. They are averaging 1.75 goals per game and an xG of 2.26. This could perhaps indicate that while Lazio can clearly create a lot of chances and opportunities to score, they are lacking that final finish in order to kill the game.
If you take a look at the two matches in which Lazio have dropped points, you could argue that Lazio should have come away with at least 1 point against SPAL, they had the majority of possession (54.39%) and the most chances (1.98 as opposed to SPAL’s 1.65).
Then in the case of the match against Roma, Lazio were the clear favorites to win that match, and if you base it on the stats, they should’ve won comfortably, creating 2.56 xG compared to Roma’s 1.27. It is this kind of ruthlessness that Lazio seem to be lacking as of right now and it’s up to whether Inzaghi can improve this, especially when coming up against Conte’s Inter, where chances to score are few and far between.
Defensively Inter are the best in the league, and you could argue at least in the top 3 in Europe as of right now. They have only conceded one goal, average 0.25 and concede xG average of 0.59. Conte has done tremendous work in unifying Inter’s defensive unit and has done well to ensure each player knows their role and what to do especially when the opposition have the ball.
This was especially evident when playing against AC Milan. During that match Inter only had 45% of the ball but only conceded an xG of 0.71. It seems that Conte would be happy to let the opposition have the ball, absorb pressure then hit back on a counter.
Lazio are a little less solid defensively despite playing a similar system to Inter. Four matches in and Lazio have conceded 3 goals, average 0.75, and an xG 1.01. Lazio do have a couple of solid defenders in their squad, Acerbi and Radu stand out the most, but it looks like its the lack of a cohesive unit when compared to Inter’s defense that is letting them down and have let in some silly goals over the past few games due to a lack of concentration or one player having to make up for another’s mistake.
Nevertheless, this could prove to be a careful, strategic chess match between Conte and Inzaghi, on who can unlock each others defense first.
Taking all of this into consideration, and the fact that both sides could be fairly rotated, it’s a tough one to call. If you are a betting man then it looks like Inter might be the best choice based on recent form, the fact that the players are still learning Conte’s system and seem to be getting better game after game, and that a player making his full debut this season could well go out there with a point to prove and a real fire in his belly.
Key players for this match are Alexis Sanchez for Inter, and Luis Alberto for Lazio. This is assuming that Sanchez will start this match, which is looking very likely that he might, you could expect to see him go onto the field with a real point to prove, much like Lukaku did, and try to recapture the form he had when at Arsenal and Barcelona.
If Sanchez can do this, then he will be a key player for Inter’s season as rotation will be needed and you cannot underestimate the importance of having a reliable goalscorer on the bench. Meanwhile, Luis Alberto is an enigma, sometimes this man shows up to games, sometimes he doesn’t, but when he does, my my, what a player.
A right footed attacking midfielder who can also play out wide on the left, he can do the unpredictable, play that killer final ball, take on a defender with a great piece of skill, and he can score too. Luis Alberto already has one goal this season and you should expect him to come up against Inter looking to increase his tally.